We had the good fortune of connecting with Kevin Anderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kevin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve always tried to frame risk as something to be acknowledged but not dwelled upon. When I was younger, I was super into skateboarding and mountain biking. One day I brought my mom out to these big jumps my friends and I had built and she told me “Be careful!” My response was, “Don’t say that to me! If I think about crashing I will! ” This has become a philosophy of how I live my life. You need to acknowledge risk, but if you overthink risk it can become paralyzing, and will end in failure. This is especially true as a craftsperson or artist trying to start a successful business. On paper, it will always be a huge risk to start a business rather than keep a “normal” job and work part time on your craft. But if you don’t take that risk you will never find out your full potential. Even once you take the risk of pursuing your craft full time it’s easy to get pigeon holed into making projects that just pay the bills, but don’t satisfy you creatively. Risk is an essential part of pursuing your goals and passion, and I try to use it as a propellor to keep me moving forward on my journey rather than an anchor holding me back.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
While there are plenty of custom furniture shops, there are very few one man/woman shops that design and build custom furniture pieces these days. I never build the same piece twice. Even when a client comes to me wanting one of my previous designs, there are always small tweaks that can be made to improve that design. I don’t want to expand my business to mass produce the same design over and over. I strive to be the antithesis of Ikea and West Elm, crafting pieces that are not only functional and beautiful, but that will last for generations rather than a season. While this might be an awful approach to running a business, it keeps me honest and helps me become a better craftsman with each piece I design and build.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well if we ignored the whole pandemic thing…. First we would go to Station 26 and grab a few Juicy Bangers on our way back from the airport. Now we’re hungry so we’d stop at Pho 96 off Federal. (by far the best pho in Denver). Next day some rock climbing in Clear Creek, shoot some pool in Boulder at the Sun Downer or maybe a climbing/camping trip down to Shelf Road? Now that we are all sore, we should probably stay a night at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and enjoy a soak! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without a doubt, I would not be half the craftsman I am today without my mentor Ethan Hutchinson. I started out as a hobbyist toiling away in a tiny shop trying to figure out the best way to do things on my own. While there are a ton of resources online these days about woodworking, most of them are contradictory or irrelevant. (especially if you’re trying to make a living as a woodworker). The opportunity to have an apprenticeship with a designer craftsman of Ethan’s caliper and experience changed my life. I learned more from him in the first 6 months as his apprentice, than I had learned on my own in 3 years. My apprenticeship with him was a turning point in both my life and career. His continued mentorship keeps me grounded and excited to keep pushing my craft to the next level.